In my book, GPS Mapping – Make Your Own Maps, I included a chapter on Fugawi GPS Mapping software, a program that allows you to use maps downloaded from a variety of sources. While at Outdoor Retailer recently, I was fortunate to be able to spend some time speaking with Fugawi’s Robin Martel of about the future of mapping software and GPS. Robin was kind enough to agree to an interview, and here it is…
Robin, can you tell us about any new products or features that you are working on, and when we might see them available?
We are always working on new product or new features. The claim to fame of Fugawi is its support for a very wide variety of third party map formats. Currently we are working on adding support for yet more formats, including several vector formats. We are also working on a variety of niche market map-based products, which capitalize on our tried, and true map engine.
Do you anticipate offering aerial photos at any point in the future?
We currently offer complete aerial photography of England and Wales (Fugwai SkyView UK). This photography is seamless and can be viewed in standard ortho ‘map mode’ or viewed in stunning 3D.
Fugawi Global Navigator, supports USGS air photo images. Because Fugawi Global Navigator (USA Edition) is supplied with complete elevation data of the USA, any of these images can also be viewed in 3D.
What are the primary limitations inhibiting development of mapping software?
Mapping software can be made to do almost anything. Generally speaking, the most difficult aspect of producing mapping software products is licensing. Most map data (with the exception of some US government data) is copyright by the data owner and can only be reproduced with permission, or under a commercial license agreement. This becomes very difficult when other governments or commercial interests, who are not involved in consumer applications, own the data.
What improvements would you like to see in GPS receivers?
The GPS manufacturers are doing an excellent job with innovation. While GPS receiver design continues to evolve and improve, most of the development now is in better and faster on-board operating systems with greater processing power and memory. This is not related to the GPS receiver but rather to the device in which the receiver is embedded. We would like to see growth in more ‘outdoor suitable’ hand held computer devices with embedded GPS. This is happening now and is evident in a variety of PDA devices, but there is still a way to go to produce the ideal GPS enabled handheld computer platform for outdoor use. As these hardware platforms proliferate, with standard on-board operating systems such as Pocket PC, Palm, Linux, etc., we should see a new growth in mapping applications designed for use on these systems.
What is way out there, years in the future, for your company or for the entire industry? What would your ideal GPS unit of the future look like?
The ‘GPS’ component of the GPS enabled device is becoming insignificant. More devices, with faster processors, more on board memory and better data storage, and better suitability for use outdoors will lead to a new generation of mapping and location based services.